An American rock and roll star named Nick Cooper (Jack Jones) hasn't released a record in six years and as such, it's time for him to make his comeback. In order to do this, he heads off to England where he holes himself up in a creepy old house where he'll have the peace and quiet he needs to create his latest and greatest musical masterpiece. What Nick doesn't know is that shortly after he left his American abode, his ex-girlfriend (Holly Palance – yep, Jack's daughter!) was chopped up into bloody little pieces by a maniacal killer dressed up like an old woman.
Once Nick arrives in England he's met by the sexy Linda (Pamela Stephenson), the secretary of his manager, Webster Jones (David Doyle who is instantly recognizable from Charlie's Angels). The two hit it off in more ways than one and despite some glares and passive aggressive comments from Jones, they start to fall for each other. Once he starts really getting into his work at the house, things start to get weird for Nick. The hired help, an elderly couple who go by Mr. And Mrs. B (Bill Owen and Sheila Keith respectively) seem innocent enough on the surface but they just might be up to something sinister if the voices that Nick starts hearing are anything to go by. The more time he spends there the stranger it gets when he starts seeing his ex-girlfriend's corpse wandering around the building and when most of the people Nick meets wind up dead, you just know there's something seriously wrong here…
From the opening scene in which Holly Palance gets chopped up through to the shock ending, The Comeback is a fast paced movie that, despite the goofy premise and at times rather obvious red herrings, proves to be quite a bit of fun. It isn't an intense psychological thriller or a thinking man's horror film, it's a slasher with some possible supernatural overtones that plays around with a few themes of mental instability and terror. Throughout the movie it becomes obvious that someone or something is trying to drive Nick insane, it doesn't take us long to figure that out, the fun comes in trying to guess who it is and what their motive could be. After all, everyone loves a rock star, right? With Palance's corpse wandering around though, is it all in his head or is someone really pulling some strings behind the scenes, making life difficult for him?
The film benefits from a few excellent murder set pieces and some grisly gore effects that take things a little further than you might expect them to. The case is also pretty interesting, it's a lot of fun to see David Doyle pop up in this one as he's so often associated with the character of John Bosely from Charlie's Angels. Jack Jones is fine in the lead, and it's interesting to note that he was the son of Allen Jones and that he also showed up as the lounge singer guy in Airplane II: The Sequel. The highlight of the film in terms of the casting however is seeing Pamela Stephenson in various states of undress. She's not only a gorgeous woman but she's also quite good in the movie, using her doe eyed innocence and natural good looks to charm the pants off of Nick pretty early on in the film. She has an interesting chemistry with him on screen, it's a shame that they didn't work together more and that she didn't get more film work (most of her appearances after this film was made were on various television shows, most notably a stint on Saturday Night Live though she did show up in Superman III and Mel Brooks' History Of The World Part One).
While the back of the packaging states that the movie is presented in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture is in fact presented in an open matte fullframe presentation that has, sadly, seen better days. The colors are flat, the image is murky, and there's some mild print damage present in a few scenes. It's watchable and the compositions don't seem to be too affected by the aspect ratio chosen for this release, but there is definitely room for improvement here in terms of quality and clarity. Some of the darker scenes look fairly muddy, and skin tones in a few spots look rather sickly.
The film is presented in its original English language without any alternate language tracks, closed captioning options or subtitles. You've got your choice of the original 2.0 stereo track or a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, and both get the job done fine. Truth be told, there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two different mixes. The 5.1 track does throw some effects at you from behind which adds a bit of atmosphere and it spreads out some of the music a bit but the differences are minor. Both tracks sound fine, no problems in the way of hiss or distortion to report and the dialogue remained clean and clear throughout.
Jonathon Rigby, author of the book English Gothic, moderates a commentary with Pete Walker himself and he proves to not be at a loss for words when discussing the film. He covers pre-productions aspects like wrangling up the cast and the shooting locations as well as budgetary issues. He provides us with some fun anecdotes about some of the performers and gives us a few 'what might have been' moments when he talks about some of the original casting choices and locations that he had in mind for the film before he ended up with the cast we see here. This is a pretty interesting commentary and fans of the film or of Walker in general should find it quite enjoyable.
Rounding out the extra features are an essay on the movie, a nice gallery of poster and video art as well as some production stills, and trailers for The Comeback, The Confessional, Die Screaming, Marianne!, The Flesh And Blood Show, Frightmare and The House Of Whipcord.
Despite the shoddy transfer, The Comeback is a fun, gory British genre offering and Media Blasters disc does contain a solid commentary track that makes it worth a look for fans of the genre. Judging by the extras and the transfer, Media Blasters has simply ported over the PAL Anchor Bay UK release, but the disc still comes recommended to die hards of UK fright films, a makes a fun rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.